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The one issue about which candidates McCain, Obama, Palin and Biden seem to agree is Israel. During the debates each candidate has gone out of his and her way to emphasize strong support for Israel as an American ally and a bastion of democracy in a dangerous neighborhood. They have also all expressed support for Israel’s right to defend itself against the nuclear threat posed by Iran, which has sworn to wipe Israel off the map.
There may be some difference in nuance among the candidates, especially with regard to negotiations with Iran. But supporters of Israel should not base their voting decision on which party or which candidates support Israel more enthusiastically. They should vote based on more general considerations about what is best for America, the world and the values that they hold dear. In the United States, Israel is not a divisive issue, and voting for President is not a referendum on support for Israel, at least among the major parties.
When it comes to third parties, however, support for Israel is very controversial. The Green Party, for example, has nominated candidates whose hatred for Israel is so visceral as to border on bigotry.
The Green Party’s current candidate for President is an overt anti-Semite named Cynthia McKinney who has surrounded herself with storm-trooper like neo-Nazis who frequently shout anti-Jewish slogans at her rallies. McKinney implied that the Jews were responsible for 9/11 and has supported the rantings of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. Her father blamed her defeat for reelection to Congress on “the J-E-W-S.” According to the Anti Defamation League, McKinney has refused to distance herself from these “anti-Semitic comments,” and “her service in Congress has been clouded by a perception that she also harbors such feelings.”
The historical record shows that this is an understatement. A fellow congressman characterized her as an overt “racist and an anti-Semite.”
Yet the Green Party nominated this bigot for the presidency of the United States. Previously they nominated Ralph Nader for President and Peter Camejo for vice president, both of whom have long records of anti-Israel bigotry and sympathy for terrorists. The Green Party itself has supported divestiture against Israel but not against tyrannical regimes that incite and facilitate the murder of innocent Israelis and Jews.
Has Green become the new color of anti-Semitism in the United States as it has in parts of Europe? And why would so-called environmentalists oppose the most environmentally sensitive country in the Middle East and one of the most environmentally-responsible countries in the world?
Nor is this one-sided “blame everything on Israel” attitude limited only to third parties. It extends to the extremist fringes of both major parties. Former President Jimmy Carter blames Israel, and Israel alone, for the lack of peace in the Middle East. The bad news is that a former President would express such bigotry toward the Jewish state. The good news is that the Democratic Party refused to give him the usual speaking role reserved for a former President at the party’s Presidential Convention. Although Carter endorsed Barack Obama, Obama went out of his way to ignore an endorsement that he knew would do him more harm than good.
I wish the Republican Party had treated Pat Buchanan with the same disdain. Both Carter and Buchanan share a bias against the Jewish state. Yet Buchanan was invited to speak at the Republican Convention in 1992 – a speech in which he declared a culture war against non-Christian fundamentalists.
In the United States, as distinguished from Western Europe, centrists of both parties generally support Israel. Bigotry against the Jewish state in this country comes primarily from the extreme left and from the extreme right.
Let’s keep it that way.
Today, the Green Party responds:
Greens noted that Mr. Dershowitz has promoted ‘torture warrants’ to permit torture of individuals when a threat to US is detected, a position he shares with the Israeli government. The use of torture has been categorically rejected by numerous military, intelligence, and legal experts because of humane concerns, international laws and treaties, unreliability as a method for obtaining information, and because torture would place US military personnel and other Americans at risk of similar treatment in retaliation.
Justine McCabe and Julia Willebrand submitted the Green response to the Daily News’ editorial department, which declined to publish it. The response was embargoed until last week to give the Daily News first right of publication:
Presidential election years aren’t easy for those of us in parties outside the Democratic and Republican mainstream. Shut out of the national debates and most media coverage, our ideas seldom get a fair hearing, even though most Americans agree with us. But worse than no coverage is when our policies are dismissed, not on their merit or the facts, but by slander.
Case in point: a recent Daily News column by Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz. Known for his unwavering support of Israel, Dershowitz isn’t merely content to ban Palestinians from the public
discussion on the Middle East conflict. He uses name-calling to drown out any voices in this election except those of the established parties — the two parties whose foreign policies have led to
international animosity against the US.
Dershowitz epitomizes those who believe that any criticism of the state of Israel or its actions constitutes anti-Semitism. What they call anti-Semitism in the Green Party’s national platform is actually adherence to international law, observance of human rights for all Palestinians and Israelis, and support for a nonviolent negotiated resolution to the conflict.
The Green Party takes no campaign contributions from AIPAC, its rightwing allies, or the oil industry. Unlike Democrats and Republicans, who accept such money, Greens condemn all violence against unarmed civilians, whether by Palestinians or Israelis, whether through the use of American-made F-16’s or Caterpillar bulldozers. We oppose military aid to Israel and Arab countries. Unlike Barack Obama and John McCain, Greens have deplored Israel’s violation of over 60 UN Security Council resolutions against collective punishment, confiscation of Palestinian land and illegal settlement by 400,000 Israeli colonists, and demolition of over 10,000 Palestinian homes. We continue to oppose Israel’s violations of human rights that are recognized as universal by the international community: the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and the right of self-determination.
Ironically, unlike the Israeli press, the US media have tolerated little discussion on the issue. Otherwise, Americans would know that the Green position is shared by people like South Africa’s Nobel
laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Congress of South African Trade Unions, the Irish public sector union IMPACT, the British National Union of Journalists–all of whom recognize the apartheid-like
conditions in Israel and the Occupied Territories and have endorsed a boycott to insist that Israel dismantle them.
Dershowitz repeats accusations, lies, and distortions that have been leveled against former Democratic congresswoman and now Green Party presidential nominee Cynthia McKinney because of her principled positions and her refusal to take orders from AIPAC — a lobby for a foreign government — and its allies. However, he gets one thing correct: Obama and McCain have expressed the same uncritical support for the government of Israel and its actions, which guarantees no hope of peaceful resolution in the next administration, regardless of which candidate wins the White House. Why not just toss a coin instead of holding an election?
In the end, so eager are apologists like Dershowitz to shut down real debate about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and other vital topics that they would limit the political field and banish “extremist”
alternative parties. In fact, alternative parties have introduced such extremist ideas as abolition of slavery, women’s right to vote, the 8-hour workday, and Social Security. The Green Party is here to
remind Americans that unequivocal support for Israel’s actions is a corruption of American values like justice and equality before the law — values that most Americans still hold dear.